The other controversial topic at this week’s City Council meeting? Why, the library, of course.

Somewhat lost amongst all of Wednesday night’s City Council meeting discussions of the Safe City Ordinance was a rather surprising item that came up during the “Communications from Mayor, City Officers and Employees” portion of the agenda.

During his remarks, Mayor Martin stated that he had initiated a safety and accessibility evaluation of the current library building in order to confirm the $46,000 figure for repairs that has persisted through much of the debate about whether or not to move forward with the construction of a new library building. Martin said this just-completed evaluation has identified many safety and accessibility challenges. Further, even a relatively small investment in upgrades would be enough to trigger a state requirement for 100% compliance to code.

Given that the building has been grandfathered for “library use,” Martin announced that he would be issuing an executive order the following day (August 22) restricting use of the building to “library use only.” What exactly constitutes “library use” and what the exact implications would be was a bit unclear, but some examples provided by the Mayor included off-hours use of the building by community groups for meetings, meetings conducted in the basement without library staff present, and weekend use of the building.

Councilor Mass later seized on this lack of clarity to question the need for additional meeting space, revisiting yet again the question of whether a new library building needed to be large enough to provide meeting space.

Mayor Martin also had some back-and-forth with Councilor Allis about the overall assessed value of the current library building versus that of the lot that it shares with the fire station.